Making sweet, sweet music in the bedroom.
The advancement of technology has brought about many changes to our lives. For the recording industry, the technological development of the past few years has begun to redefine what is possible. Historically, the recording of music has been a costly business. This is not a problem if you are a big name artist with a big budget, but what about the little guy? I am in a small time band: Terra Nova Bay. We are unsigned and we aren’t playing $100 ticket shows; in fact, we’re lucky to get a $100 profit from a gig. Small bands like us simply do not have the thousands of dollars it costs to put together an album in a professional studio. Thankfully though, the advances in technology are finally allowing small bands to make quality recordings.
The way music is recorded has gone from analog recording (basically recording onto tapes) to digital recording through computers. What this means is that now, instead of having studios full of costly gear, all you really need is a computer and a few basic things (software, a microphone, and an audio interface) to record your music. We are currently living in an age where do-it-yourself recording is as affordable as it has ever been. Google search “home recording studio setup” and you will be overwhelmed with the amount of sites and forums dedicated to DIY recording. With a budget of under a thousand dollars, a decent computer, some talent, and a willingness to take the time to learn, one can easily record music. No longer do we need big budget studios to produce quality, publishable music.
Take Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon for example: in 2009 Vernon released the album For Emma, Forever Ago which he recorded alone in a cabin using an inexpensive microphone and some basic gear. This album gained critical acclaim world-wide and projected Bon Iver into the spotlight. For those of us in bands with limited funds, the success of the ‘bedroom recording’ movement is extremely empowering. When we decided to begin recording an EP this fall, we looked inward rather than outward. One of our members has set up a small home studio in his bedroom, and we have begun to record there, rather than in a professional studio.
This technology has not only allowed for the recording costs to drop dramatically for do-it-yourselfers, it has also allowed for those with little money to get a hold of quality modern and vintage gear and to record drums at a fraction of the price. Companies such as Logic and Native Instruments have produced software containing what are called ‘samples’ that can be used through electronic drum kits and keyboards. Samples are basically high quality recordings of each note of a specific instrument or each drum and cymbal of a drum kit. Now instead of buying a ton of different instruments, you can go out, buy the software with the sounds and a keyboard that can trigger these sounds, and you have access to them.
With the right knowledge, a small time band can put out a professional sounding album for very little money. And, to top it off, social media is making it easier to get your product out on the market and into the wider musical world. In the end, the goal of recording is to share what you have created. With the advance in technology, my band and others can record music we are proud of and make it accessible to others, and then maybe, just maybe, we can make a little money doing what we love.